To create, host and manage large-audience webinars and online events, there are a number of web conferencing tools that can help you deal efficiently with hundreds of participants. But how do you choose among all these services which one is best for you? In this MasterNewMedia guide you will find out which are the best webinar and webcasting tools out there that can handle large audiences and what characterizes them through a set of comparative tables and mini-reviews.
As I have already told you in my 2010 New Media Predictions, webinars and live online events will become increasingly interesting in the near future.
People are tired of the old broadcast style and shattered by boring presentations where the host is slaved to her slides and attendees have no possibility to participate, contribute or ask.
Live online events match the need of those who want to smash up the traditional one-way communication paradigm in favor of a more engaging experience, both for the presenter and the attendees.
Let’s see some possible real-time applications of live online events:
- Business: Companies can use live events to showcase a new product they have, illustrate new features of an existing service or host scheduled webinars to train customers and prospects on how to use a tool without going through a 100-page written manual.
- Teaching: Educators can tear down classroom walls and interact with large number of students connected from every part of the World. Teachers can give lectures, submit tests, evaluate students and share every kind of learning material with no physical-world restrictions.
- Fun: Individuals can reach out with other people that are part of the same online community. These people can communicate, exchange videos, photos or just to spend some nice time together from the comfort of their houses and for a reasonable price.
These are just a few examples that only sneak a peek on what live events and webinars can do for you.
Luckily now, there are a number of simple-to-launch, one-click web meeting tools that can broadcast live discussions across ad hoc participant groups for an affordable price and without specific or costly hardware.
The only question is: which are exactly these web meeting tools and how do you go about selecting the best solution for your needs?
To make it easier for you to evaluate and pick the best web conferencing solution for you, in this guide you will find a comprehensive mindmap, two comparative tables, and a set of reviews that will help you evaluate the best large-audience webinar and webcasting tool for your needs.
Here the criteria I have used for my comparison:
- Maximum number of attendees: Highest limit of participants you can have and manage inside a live event or webinar.
- Key features: Main distinctive traits of webcasting tools like screen-sharing, whiteboarding, video conferencing, text chat and presentation sharing.
- Price: Monthly cost of the webcasting tool based on the maximum number of attendees you can manage.
- Recording: Archiving of your event for future broadcast, embed on your blog or distribution.
- Reporting: Detailed statistics that give you useful insights about your event, like how many people have received your event invitation, how many people have registered, who left the meeting before its end, and other data.
- Branding: Customization options that allow you to personalize the style of your webinar or live event.
Large-Audience Webinars And Webcasting Tools
GoToWebinar is an online meeting software that allows you to host online seminars with a large audience. GoToWebinar costs either $99/mo for up to 100 attendees and $399/mo for up to 500 attendees and works on PCs and Macs. Key features of GoToWebinar are: screen-sharing, whiteboarding, text chat and presentation sharing. The interface of the software is very unobtrusive and allows you to manage all aspects of your webinar: event recording, attendees management, polls, text-chat questions, and more. For each live event you host you can set reminder e-mails and follow-up notifications that GoToWebinar can customize with your own logo and look and feel. After you host a webinar, you get a detailed report on the status of your event.
Adobe Connect Pro is a web-based solution to create and host online events for both small and large online audiences. Adobe Connect Pro costs $55/mo for up to 100 attendees and it works both on PCs and Macs. Key features are: screen-sharing, whiteboarding, video conferencing, text chat and presentation sharing. Event recording, comprehensive attendees management, polls, reporting and webinar branding are all fully supported. For each live event you host, you can set reminder e-mails and follow-up notification messages. If you host recurrent events, you can use the same room URL every time and also save your preferred layout solution to reduce meeting setup times.
WiZiQ is a online education platform that can be used to deliver both small and large live online events. WiZiQ is free for sessions up to two hours and for up to three session recordings. With a maximum limit of 500 attendees, WiziQ costs $100/mo. WiziQ key features are: screen-sharing, whiteboarding, video conferencing, text chat and presentation sharing. Other features include file-sharing, polling, invoicing system, students profiles, and more. All live events you host are recorded by default and embeddable on your blog or third-party sites. Right after your live event is over, you receive a detailed report with statistics on your live event. No branding is available.
DimDim is a browser-based web conferencing solution capable of hosting online events with a large number of participants. DimDim Webinar costs $75/mo for up to 1000 attendees and its key features are screen-sharing, whiteboarding, video conferencing and text chat. Every live event you host can also be embedded on your blog or third-party sites. Event recording, attendees management, polls and reporting are fully supported as well. DimDim, which works across platforms, also integrates with popular online services like Google Maps, Flickr, Twitter, YouTube, PollDaddy, Moodle, and many others. If an online service you would like to use is not supported, you can custom integrate it into your live events using the DimDim APIs. No branding is available.
TokBox Broadcast Video Chat
TokBox is a web-based video-chat solution that allows you to connect with up to 20 participants for free. To manage a bigger number of participants, you can purchase the Broadcast video chat package for $18.99/mo to host online meetings with up to 200 attendees. Participants can join a meeting from all web browsers or operating systems supporting Adobe Flash technology. During the live event only 12 people are allowed to be simultaneously on-screen in video. Key features of TokBox Broadcast video chat solution are: screen-sharing, video conferencing, text chat and presentation sharing. You can also send and record video messages to publicize your events and allow your audience to submit video questions. No event recording, reporting or branding is available.
GatherPlace is an online webinar software that allows you to create and host large online seminars. Presenters must have a Mac or PC to broadcast the event, but attendees can either join from PCs, Macs or Linux-based machines. Priced at $49/mo for up to 10 attendees and at $157/mo for up to 500 participants, GatherPlace key features are: screen-sharing, whiteboarding, text chat and presentation sharing. Event recording, reporting, comprehensive attendees management and custom branding are all supported as well. Once a live session has started, you can lock your event to block other participants from joining your event.
iVocalize is Java-based cross-platform web conferencing desktop software that you can use to manage live events with a big number of participants. You pay a flat monthly rate to have an online room available 24/7 where you can gather your attendees. iVocalize single chat rooms for up to 100 attendees cost $500/mo. Key features are: screen-sharing, whiteboarding, video conferencing, text chat and presentation sharing. Event recording is supported, as well as branding to customize your event page. Other main features of iVocalize are co-browsing and polling. No reporting is available.
ReadyTalk Web Meeting
ReadyTalk Web Meeting is a browser-based web conferencing service that you can use to host large-audience webinars and online events. ReadyTalk Web Meeting costs $99/mo for up to 2000 attendees. Key features are: screen-sharing, whiteboarding, text chat and presentation sharing. Event reporting and branding are also fully supported. Event recording is not included and comes as an optional cost. Audio VoIP is also not included but ReadyTalk Web Metting integrates a telephone-based international conferencing system at a separate per minute cost. For each live event you schedule, you can set up reminder e-mails, follow-up messages, marketing campaigns and social media promotion campaigns. Polling and meeting archive pages are also available.
eAuditorium is a server-based web conferencing solution that allows you to organize and manage online meetings and events with a large number of participants. eAuditorium is available for Windows-based and Unix-based servers with prices starting from $149/mo for up to 100 attendees and up to $500/mo for up to 100 meeting guests. Participants can join a meeting from any browser or operating system. Key features are: screen-sharing, whiteboarding, text chat, presentation sharing and custom branding. Other features include: live polling and auctioning, and co-browsing. No recording, nor branding are available.
Originally prepared by Robin Good and Daniele Bazzano for MasterNewMedia, and first published on May 10th, 2010 as “Large-Audience Webinars And Webcasting Tools: Best WebConferencing Services For Online Events With Hundreds Of Participants“.
Robin Good and Daniele Bazzano –